across Kansas in the midst of my first Rooster Road Trip, I allow my mind to
wander, reflecting over the past four seasons and all that has changed. It’s
exciting how new this world still feels, as we leave for my first non-resident
hunt debut. On the same note, it’s hard to imagine this wasn’t a part of my
life all along, as it encompasses who I am today. My early years were spent
heavily in the outdoors. But hunting? Not a chance. With no interest, raised in
a family that doesn’t hunt, and zero exposure living in a big city, I still
look back amazed with the direction my life has taken.
in on my thirtieth birthday was when the proverbial lightbulb moment occurred.
The knowledge that I could harvest quality, clean game from the field while
enjoying time spent in the outdoors changed everything. When approached this
way, hunting just made sense. I was previously unaware of the connection
between hunting and conservation and this spoke to my core as a woman who has
always cared deeply for the environment.
recall the exact moment I stepped into a frost encrusted tallgrass prairie and
the overwhelming feeling of awe I experienced; this section of public land
available for anyone to explore. This is how I found my uplands. I set out to
follow my bird dog, and I have never once looked back.
uplands speak to me like no other place can, with each landscape providing new
history and narratives. Through trial and error, every free moment has been
spent in the field with my German shorthaired pointer. There are moments from
the beginning that I look back on and shake my head, wondering what I was
thinking. But we all start somewhere, or we don’t start at all.
Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Women on the Wing Initiative officially
kicked off in response to the rapid interest and engagement among women
conservationists, women that wanted to learn more, like me. Much like our
organization, the Women on the Wing initiative was developed from the ground
into my role as the Education & Outreach Program Manager, I have the
remarkable opportunity to lead this new initiative and come full circle with my
passion, to give back to those who once stood in my shoes, wanting to learn but
not knowing where to turn.
I am humbled to follow in the footsteps of so many women who built the
foundation for my new career path. From my colleagues within our organization
to the trail breaking women across the uplands, I am honored to help share
their stories and excited to help create a new generation of uplander stories
Through the Women on the Wing initiative, we’ve created four main priorities: Conservation Outreach, Women, Wine & Wild Game socials, Women on the Wing Chapters, and Women’s Recruit, Retain and Reactivation (R3) events. The vision of the initiative is simple: To expand and diversify those who hold an appreciation for the uplands, and to increase the opportunities to share our passion with others.
Women on the Wing initiative helps provide an opportunity for women to learn
about the beauty of the uplands on an early morning, to witness the joy of
following a beloved bird dog through the field and the rush of a rooster or covey
flush. To experience wildlife on their property as they work to improve habitat
on their ground. We are excited to provide support for these women so they can
find their own unique place in the uplands and our organization.
future of upland hunting is dependent on a diverse audience, and women are a
critical component of that. Currently, women make up approximately 11 percent
of overall hunter participants. However, women are the fastest-growing hunting
demographic, and we look forward to providing an opportunity and support to
grow these hunter-conservationists.
the past four years, I’ve met many individuals along the way, and I find myself
fortunate enough to now call them friends. I wish I had known them earlier, to
help show me the way. At the same time, I wouldn’t change my path for anything,
knowing that it was part of my story and made me who I am today.
a mentor, I can take part in the memories of future hunters, to be a page in
their history as conservationists, helping them write their story. Knowing that
if we all come together to do our part, we can continue to preserve hunting and
wild places for generations to come.
uplands have changed my life in the most profound way, knowing that with every
box of ammo purchased, every hike taken with my bird dog, every healthy,
delicious meal brought home from the field for my son to enjoy, I’m
contributing to the health and conservation of these wild places.
are the stories we must share through Women on the Wing and in our larger role
as hunter-conservationists, encouraging others to take part in the uplands for
themselves. We can all play a larger part in protecting these wild places so
that others can build their memories on the land we walked before them.
Women on the Wing and the future of upland hunting for more information on the Women on the Wing initiative, contact: Marissa Jensen, Education & Outreach Program Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org